Simplifying my "Book Love" (& Happy #ValentinesDay!)

I know you know it: that feeling of finishing a really good book and you've got that stupid grin on your face. Or you're feeling a "wow" inside you that's hard to shake off (or whatever the feeling you feel with a good book). The "book high" is a wonderful experience.

I know you most likely started your own book blog because you love your books and want to share that love!

But when did reading become such a stressor? When did it become so complicated? And why?

I've heard plenty of book bloggers complaining about burnout. We're a passionate bunch and we can't help but push ourselves to keep reading, keep reviewing, keep in the loop, engage with the community, engage with authors. Memes, giveaways, book hops, book tours, I could go on and on. Then there's another layer of being a "good blogger" with time management, social media management, SEO, etc. etc. I know you know what I mean. My head, stop spinning.

I love to read. It's simple. And I want to keep it simple. It should be simple. And that's the reason I named my blog Guiltless Reading.

Here's how I keep my book loveand by extension book blogging simple and stress-free:

It's about me

I read for selfish reasons: I want to, I enjoy it, I love a good story. I also started blogging for selfish reasons: I get to express myself, I get to share some great reads, and it tickles me pink to get a few people interested in what I have to say. So while I admit that my reasons for reading and book blogging have grown beyond those simple reasons, I remind myself that reading and blogging really is about me.

I read what I want to read

I remember pre-book blogging, picking what to read was so easy. I read what I wanted to read, as the mood carried me. I have generally stuck to this principle, and dug my heels in adamantly, because I cannot imagine forcing myself to read something I'm not remotely interested in reading. Do I really want the pressure of "required reading" a la university? So when a book is offered up for review or recommended highly - and it just doesn't rock my boat - I just say "no thanks." Nothing wrong with that.

I read when I want to read

There was a time I read and reviewed at least a book a week. I pushed myself, loved the thrill of it but it took its toll ... naturally I burned out. I never force myself to read. I pick up books at will, when I have the time, if I have the times. If life happens and I don't get large blocks of time to read, I read in snippets when I can and when I know I'll enjoy it. (You're probably wondering about reviews - that's a different story. If you commit, deliver.)

I don't compete

There's a lot of great stuff going on in the community - memes, readathons, reading challenges, and more. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and busy-ness that comes with them. But it can also arouse the competitive streak in people (I know most of it is friendly, but some has become downright nasty). Like in life, there will always be someone who has read more, reviews more, has more creative ways of doing things. I just don't compete period.

I steer clear of the drama

Real life is more than enough for me, so no thanks.

I don't guilt-trip myself

I've had book slumps. I've even disappeared from the book blogging scene over the years. I've been a "bad" commenter. Heck, I've even fell back on my reviews (confession: I apologize, sometimes I don't). But I never, never guilt-trip myself about it. Books and book blogging are just a part of my life and while I love this, I won't allow it to consume me.

So tell me, my book-loving (and book blogging) friends, what keeps you loving your reading and book blogging?

Gorgeous "love" graphic from Creative Market (affiliate link)

Ooh, the mind games! {Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane} #readmyowndamnbooks

Ah, the mind. Agh, my mind!

About Shutter Island by Dennis LehaneUS Marshal Teddy Daniels has come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to find an escaped murderer named Rachel Solando. As a killer hurricane bears down on the island, the investigation deepens and the questions mount. How has a barefoot woman escaped from a locked room? Who is leaving them clues in the form of cryptic codes? And what really goes on in Ward C? The closer Teddy gets to the truth, the more elusive it becomes. And the more he begins to believe that he may never leave Shutter Island. Because someone is trying to drive him insane...

My two cents

How do I write this review without spoiling it for those of you who have never heard of this book? If you haven't watched the movie (which stars Leonardo DiCaprio if you didn't already know based on that cover), well and good ... you should read this. If you have, then you already know that this is story is not what is makes itself out to be as per that little blurb or the marketing spiels out there.  

This a novel that starts out as one thing and morphs into something totally different. 

At face value this is a little hunting mission for two US Marshals, Teddy and Chuck, for a murderer on the loose on an island that houses the criminally insane (so naturally the escapee is also insane). If that isn't exciting enough for you, there is a huge hurricane, power outages, the prospect of more escaped wards, and oh-but-of-course, a host of clues that are begging to be solved. 

But wait. There is more! There seems to be a conspiracy that's pretty insidious in its prospects. And there are also hints throughout the novel about Teddy Daniel's personal life, a haunted past that only makes the reader wonder who the heck this US Marshal really is. 

All throughout this excitement, something deeply unsettlingly lies in store for the willing victim err, reader. I loved that Lehane took me on a journey that can only be described as being "played." It's all an elaborate mind game, not only for the lead character, but for you and me as readers. I fell for it all, hook, line and sinker, and I loved it! Ah, to recapture that feeling when I first watched The Sixth Sense! 

P.S. Books like this come rarely for me as I usually can see through elaborate plotting. If you have any recommendations for surprisingly good books that eff up your mind, let me know!


A suspenseful conspiracy-mystery with a surprising twist ... for the reader. If you liked The Sixth Sense, love psychological thrillers, pick this up. Or watch the movie. Or both!

Yes, I #readmyowndamnbooks! I got this from some random thrift sale. Or something. 

#Friday56 & #BookBeginnings: Memories of My Melancholy Whores

The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a wild night of love with an adolescent virgin. 
- p. 3

For Friday 56:
I dressed in haste, without washing, and only then did I see the sentence written in lipstick across the mirror above the sink: The tiger does not eat far away. I knew it hadn't been there the night before, and no one could have come into the room, and therefore I understood it as a gift from the devil. 
- p. 56

Synopsis of Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: On the eve of his ninetieth birthday a bachelor decides to give himself a wild night of love with a virgin. As is his habit--he has purchased hundreds of women--he asks a madam for her assistance. The fourteen-year-old girl who is procured for him is enchanting, but exhausted as she is from caring for siblings and her job sewing buttons, she can do little but sleep. Yet with sleeping beauty at his side, it is he who awakens to a romance he has never known.

After a ten year hiatus, Marquez came back with this extremely slim Lolita-esque novel. I've got a copy which I plan on rereading and reviewing for this year's Read the Nobels. Does this book intrigue you?

Read the Nobels 2016
Find out more about Read the Nobels!

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© guiltless readingMaira Gall